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Full text of "A Letter from Sir Hans Sloane Baronet, Late Pr. R. S. to Martin Folkes Esquire Pr. R. S. Containing Accounts of the Pretended Serpent-Stone Called Pietra de Cobra de Cabelos, and of the Pietra de Mombazza or the Rhinoceros Bezoar, Together with the Figure of a Rhinoceros with a Double Horn"

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Vf. A -Letter from Sir Hans Sloane Baronet, 
late Pr. R. S. to Martin Folkes Efquire 
Pr. R. S+ containing Accounts of the pre- 
tended Serpent-flone called Pietra de Cobra 
de Cabelos, and of the., Pietra de Mom- 
bazza or the Rhinoceros Bezoar, together 
with the Figure of a Rhinoceros with a 
double Horn* 

SIR, Chelfea, Jfrili^ 1749. 

.»#«/April.2d.TrHERE fend you to be commuriicated 
*749- J^ to the Society, if you think proper; 

an Account of two pretended Stones, faid to be 
found in the Head of the moft venomous Snake of 
the Eaji Indies called 'Cob)ra de Cabelo, togerher 
with an Account of what I have heard, and what 
I believe they really arc. The firft I have heard 
and do believe to be a Stone found in the Sto- 
mach or Inteftincs of the- Rhinoceros, not, that I 
know, taken notice of by any Natural Hiflorian, ex- 
cepting Redi. The Place where it is faid to be 
found is on the South-Euft Coaft of Africa, accor- 
ding to the Information Redi had of it, and from 
which Place I had the two Horns figured in thefc 
Tranfaffions, N 0.470, by Dr. Tarfons, which were 
tied together acrofs, the better I believe to prcferve 
the fhort Skin that connc&cd them on the Nofe of 
that Animal, fo that the ftrait and crooked Horn 
might appear diftind, as they do in a very intire 
fmall brafs Medal of *Domitian in my Collection* 


[ "9 ] 

Whether the Rhinoceros, who bore rhefe two* 
Horns, be a diftindt Species of that Animal from that 
of Afia-> future Travellers muft determine 

Thefe Horns were given me by my worthy and 
ingenious Friend and Acquaintance Charles Lockyer 
Efq; who was (as I have been told) fent in a Ship 
of Strength with a Power given him by the Eaft- 
Indian and African Companies, to go on their Affairs 
to that unfrequented Coaft which common Travellers 
have been afraid to go to becaufe ofthe Barbarity and 
Cruelty commonly faid to belong to its Inhabitants, 
and with which the Egyptians, and from them the 
Greeks and Romans, had a greater Intercourfe and 
Knowledge than with the Southern Parts of Afia> 
where that Animal is generally found with only one 
Horn, I am, 


Tour humble Servant \ 

Hans Sloane, 

Fietra de Serpent i di Mombazza Redi Efperienze 7 
Nat. p. f9, Tab. II. Lapis Serpentis de Mom- 
baza, Edit. Latin, p. 82. 

TAR. Waldo, an old Acquaintance of mine, went 
-*-** into the Eqft Indies, on purpofc to fearch after: 
and coiled the natural Productions and Curiofities 
of thole Parts, efpecially fuch as related to the Cure 
of Difeafes, which he fent from time to time to his 
Sifter he left in London, with Directions to fhew 
them to the Earl of Tembroke, Sir Godfrey Kneller, 


[ I2 ° ] 

and myfelf, to fell. The two former not caring to buy 
feveral of them, they fell into my Hands. Airing 
the reft which I purchafed were (bine of thefc Stones, 
which were by him call'd Rhinoceros Bezoars, which 
I fuppofed were taken out of the Stomach or Guts 
of that large Animal. 

Thefe Produ&ions or Bezoars, as they are com- 
monly cali'd, confift of feveral Coats made up of 
feveral Parts attracted by their Centers, fuch as the 
Stones of Fruits, and other indigcftable Subftances 
fwallowed with its Food, after the manner of thofc 
found in the Stomach and Intettines of Mankind, 
and other Animals. The uppermoft Coat or Layer 
of this Bezoar is made up of feveral brown ftriated 
fmall Knobs or Tubercles fomething like low Warts, 
diftant from one another, and making icsoutcrmoft 
Surface very unequal, as well appears by the Figure 
of it hereunto annexed, Tab. II.- Fig. i, and 2. diffe- 
rent from the other Bezoars whofe Surface is generally 
fmooth. Thofc I have of this Bezoar are of different 
Sizes and Diameters, the largeft about the Bi^ncfs of 
an Orange, heavy, and as hard as Stone, and capable 
of being polifhed. 

Redi relates great Virtues belonging to them, as 
told by the Bringers of them from the Eafi Indies* 
fuch as, being tied to the Hip or Leg of a Woman 
in Travail, it helps her Delivery, and without Pain, 
even if the Child be dead -, but with this Caution, 
that, immediately after the Birth, it fhould be re- 
moved 3 for if it remains tied there, it brings away 
the Womb, &c. and the Woman dies. 

Thisl beiieve to be attributed to them from their 
Center's being fometimes loofe, and rattling within, 


[ l21 3 

like an ^/Etites- or Eagle-ftonc, as fomc of thofc I 
have do : Alio that it is good tor intermitting Fevers 
given in their Drink at the going off of the Fit > and 
that it is good for the Colic, and Hypochondriac Me- 
lancholy, as may be feen in that Author, who I think 
is the only one, that fpeaks of it. 

It has been the moft rare of any of thefe Snake- 
(tones, as they are cail'd in the Indies, and fo not- 
taken notice of. 

I was inform'd there was one in Taris offered, to 
that great Inquirer after natural Produ&ions the late 
Duke of Bourbon, at the Price of 100 Piftolcs; to 
whom 1 fignified by fome of his Acquaintance, that 
I had more than one of them, and would make 
him a Prefent of one, which I afterward did, left he 
fhould be impofed upon by giving fuch a Price, as 
fome curious Perfons have often been in other 
Things of the like Nature. 

Pietre del Serpent e Cobra de Cabelo * Redi Efpe 
rienze y Nat. p. 3. Tab. 1. Lapides Serpent is 
Cobras de Cabelo diffii. Edit. Latin. Pcdra de 
Cobra, Kctnpfcr.Jlmcenitat.Exot.p.^^. Vierres 
de Serpent. Biron Curio fit. de la Natura, &c.p.y 2 . 

TTYEL John Bateman, my worthy Prcdeceffor, for- 
*-J merly Trejtdent of the College of Thyjicians 
of London, told me, with great Admiration, that he 


* Which fignifies in Portuguefe^ the hooded Serpent, becaufe 
it has a Membrane about its Head which it can expand like an 
Hood : By others it is called the Spectacle-Snake ; for on the back 
Part of its Neck is the Reprefentation of a Pair of Spectacles. Sa 
a Figure of one in Kempfer's Amaenlt. Exotic, p. 567, 

[ 122 ] 

had fecn the great Effe&s (upon the Bite of a Viper) 
of the Snake-ftone or Serpent-ftone, as ir is call'd, be- 
fore King Charles II. who was a great Lover of fuch 
Natural Experiments 5 and that he knew the Perfon 
poffefied of the very Stone he had fecn tried, who 
he believed would part with it for Money. 

Upcxibmy Define and Requeft to fee him, he came 
to me, and brought with him the Stone, which was 
round and flat, as the common ones brought by 
Merchants and others from the Eafi Indies* about 
the Size of a miil'd Shilling, but thicker, for which 
he asked five Guineas, tho* it was broken. There are 
feverai of this Sort, figur'd in Tab. II. Fig. 8. a 7 
b* c* d. 

Dr. Alex. Stuart* who had been my Acquaintance 
for feverai Years, returning from the Eaji Indies > 
brought from thence, among many other Curiofities, 
fome of thefe Snake or Serpent-ftones, together 
with this Account of them, which he had from a 
Father Miffionary in the Eaji Indies* c that they were 

* not taken out of a Serpent's Head, but made of 

* the Bones of the fmali Buffalo in the Indies (by 
which their Coaches are drawn inftead of Horfes); 
the Bones being, half-calcin'd or chard by the Dung 
of the fame Buffalo. He gave me feverai Pieces, with 
fome of the Snake or Serpent-ftones made out of 
them, and which I have in my Golieftion of feverai 
Shapes and Colours. 

I think the firft who gives any Account of them 
is Francefco Redi at Florence* who had them from 
the Duke of Tufcanfs Colie&ions, and who, in his 
Efperienze Nat. tells great Virtues of them, related 
by three Francifcan Friers, who came from the 
Eaji Indies in 1662. which were, that, being ap- 

[ 12 3 3 

plied to the Bites of the Viper, Afp, or any other 
venomous Animals it flicks very faft till it has im- 
bibed or attra&ed all the Poifon (as a Loadftone 
does Iron), as many People in the Indies believe, 
and then it falls off of itfelf j and being put into 
new Milk, it parts with the Poifon, and gives the 
Milk a bluifli Colour $ of which Redi tells the Suc- 
cefs of thofe he figured. 

Kempfer, in his Amcenitat. Exot. p. $$6. fpeak- 
ing of this, fays, it helps thofe bit by Vipers, out- 
wardly applied j and that it is not found in the Ser- 
pent's Head, as believed, but by a fecret Art made 
by the Brahmenss and that, for the right and happy 
Application of it, there muft be two ready $ that 
when one has fallen off fill'd with the Poifon, the 
other may fupply its Place, They are commonly, as 
he fays, kept in a Box with Cotton, to be ready 
when Occafion offers. 

Biran fays, that if the Wound of the Serpent 
has not bled, it muft be a little prick'd, fo as the 
Blood comes out, and then to be applied as ufuaL 
It comes from the Kingdom of Camboya. 

Tab. IL 

Fig. 1. A Tietra de Mombazza *| Inches in Dia- 
meter, weighing io~ oz> ^dr. i^gr. with large 
Prominences or Embodiments on the Outfide. 

Fig. 2. another 2f in Diameter, with fmaller Em- 
boflments on the Outfide. 

Fig. 3. the fame faw'd in two, and the Se&ion 
poltfh'd, wherein appears a common Pebble a, of 

Qjfc an 

C ™4 ] 

an Afh-colour, as the Core or Center on which 
this Stone was form'd. 
bbbb, are ieveral aimoft concentric Lines, nearly 
anfwering to the Shape of the Pebble in the Cen 
ter, and referable the different Coats of an Onion, 
fhewing the progreflive Accretion of the feverai 
Lamina or Strata? of which this Stone is com- 

*cccc> pyramidal Spaces of a darker Colour, and 
more compad Texture than the intermediate lighter- 
coiour'd Spaces, whofe Bafes arife at the outer 
Circumference and form the EmbofTments there, 
and whofe Points all tend towards the Center of 
the Stones both, the Outfide and Infide of thefe 
Stones are of a light Okcr-colour diluted with a 
little white j the Pyramids being about 2 Shades 
darker than the reft of the In- or Outfide. 
Fig. 4. another of the fame fort fawn in two, in 
the Center of which is lodged a Fruit or large 
Seed, about the Size and of the Shape of aaAcorn> 
having a thick Husk on the Outfide. 
7 /g. f. a Coin oi^Domttian in fmall Brafs^ having 
en the Forefide, the Figure of a Rhinoceros with 
2 Horns growing out of his Nofe, the one above 
the other i which in the Numifmata Pembrokiana, 
Part 1. Tab. XVI. n. 68, the Engraver has made 
like a Tu^k or 'Dens exertus of a Boar, and in 
Part 3. Tab. 39. he has made the 2 Horns oa 
his Nofe like 2 Tusks,and has likewife given him 
2 Horns clofe to his Ears 5 fo that he has made 
him a Creature with 4 Horns; and therefore it 
was thought proper to give an accurate Copy of 


[ i2 5 i 

the Medal, in order to clear up that famous Paf- 
fage of Martial, Lib. de Spettac. N°. XXII. 

Namqite gravem gemino cornu (ic extulit urfum, 
Jaffat ut impqjitas taurus in ajira pilas* 

Which has for many Ages puzzled the Critics, all 
thinking that the Rhinoceros was a real Unicorn 
or Animal, which never had any more than one 
Horn. See thefe Tranf N°. 470, p. 537. and 
befide the double Horns, or geminum Cornu, in 
Sir Hans Shane's Mufeum, I am told Dr. Mead 
has got another geminum Cornu likewife from 

Fig. 6. is the reverfe of the fame Medal, with this 
Infcription imp domit avg germ and in the 
middle sc 

Fig. 7. is the Figure of the Rhinoceros magnified, 
that the Pofition of the 2 Horns might appear 
diftindt and plain. 

Fig. 8. a> b, c, d } reprefent the ^Pietre de Serpent e 
Cobra de Cabelo } of an Afh-colour and black. la 
that mark'd b, the dark Shade in the middle fhews 
an Hollow, which was Part of the Cavity of the 
Infide of the Bone, e and f are rough Pieces of 
Bones, half-calcin'd, porous, and not polifh'd. The 
Figure and Defcription of the Buffalo, whofe 
Bones they ufe for this Purpofe, are given in Mr r 
Edwards's Hiftory of Birds, to which he has fub- 
joined the Figures and Descriptions of fome few 
rare Quadrupeds. Tlate 200, 

JFca* S. 

.722 . 

JFiii. 7* 

i^J* ^.JOtf-. 




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